The Etiquette of Wedding Invitations

“Are you the groom’s sister?” I am asked by a fellow wedding guest.


“Are you a friend of the bride?”

“Nope, not a friend of the bride.”

Cue an awkward silence while she decides whether to keep guessing, and I anticipate my ultimate answer, which will almost certainly be a surprise to her.

“So… Where do you fit in? How do you know the bride and groom?” she presses. It’s such a simple, natural question, so why do I cringe?

I give her a big, friendly smile and answer directly and without hesitation: “You know the groom’s mom? I’m her sisterwife.”

Her “Ohhh” response plus her body language tell me that this answer is, indeed, not what she was expecting. I give my attention back to the two babies I’m in charge of: one mine, the other my sisterwife’s.

The woman’s husband had commented on the little ones a few minutes prior: “Are they both yours? They look too close in age to both be yours.”

He was right, in a way. The babies are too close for both of them to have come from my own body; Melissa got pregnant when I was 6 or 7 months along in my own pregnancy. At their current ages, they’re obviously not twins, but that might change in a few years.

But he was also wrong, in a way, since I claim all 7 of our family’s children as my own. So to answer the question “Are they both yours?” is not so easy for me.

My sisterwife Melissa has 3 grown children from her first marriage. I’m not particularly close to them, unfortunately. Early in Melissa’s and Joshua’s relationship, when her first batch of children were teenagers, I dared to fantasize about being a second mother to them. Alas, it wasn’t in the cards. However, the youngest son is friendly with me, and he invited me to his wedding in southern Utah.

Here’s a question for you: What should be done when a Christmas card, a graduation announcement, or a wedding invitation is being sent to a family with more than one wife?

Melissa and I have cracked the code.

Think about this: After you open the envelope, read the card, mark your calendar, and make a note to yourself to get a gift, where do you put the card?

On your fridge, of course. And you leave it up there until it’s no longer relevant.

That common habit is the basis of our rule of etiquette when mailing things to families with multiple wives.

If the wives live separately, you mail them each their own wedding invitation. If they live together and share a kitchen, just send one invitation. Easy enough.

But if they live at the same address and have their own kitchens (and hence their own refrigerators), here’s what to do: Mail to the household the same number of invitations as there are kitchens. That way, each wife gets to put the card up on her fridge. Go ahead and mail both of them in the same envelope and save yourself a stamp.

Melissa’s son understands this concept, so I got my own copy of the wedding invitation.

I found this sweet and thoughtful. I also realized that if he hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have known for sure whether I was meant to be included in the invitation. His giving two copies of the invitation to our household made it clear that I was, for sure, invited.

Back to the wedding guest who found out I was the sisterwife of the groom’s mother. After she recovered from her initial shock, she approached me. Melissa was getting herself ready for the wedding ceremony, and I was tasked with getting her reluctant preschooler dressed in his handsome ringbearer suit, complete with a bow tie and suspenders.

I was also taking care of Melissa’s infant and my toddler, so my hands were reasonably full. The kind wedding guest helped me, all the while chatting in a friendly manner and showing that she was fine with what I’d told her. Never knowing what to expect when someone finds out about my polygamy, this experience was nice.

The wedding was one I wouldn’t have attended if I wasn’t a polygamist.

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